Growing up as a foster child, Maria always felt a sense of loneliness and never truly felt like she belonged to a family. At 35, her biological mother, Caitlyn, reached out to her. Caitlyn was unwell, and her unexpected reappearance triggered Maria’s defenses. Sadly, Maria’s hasty retreat from their meeting left her with regrets when she later uncovered a surprising truth.
Maria’s life had always been one of independence. Even while living with her foster family, a sense of familial connection eluded her. At 18, she chose to leave their house, severing all ties with them.
At 35, Maria was a resident of Wichita, Kansas, and had a stable career in a reputable marketing firm. However, her social life was sparse. Sara, a colleague, was the only person Maria considered close to being a friend.
Maria had always struggled to form strong bonds with men. Her therapist, Dr. Melissa Schroeder, suggested that Maria should try to socialize more and meet new people. Despite this advice, Maria was comfortable with her current life and didn’t want anything to disturb her peace or introduce unnecessary drama.
According to Dr. Schroeder, Maria’s difficulty in establishing connections stemmed from being left by her mother as an infant. Her foster parents had told her that she had been left in a basket on their doorstep. They took her in, not out of love, but for the additional government funding. They never legally adopted her or any of the other foster children in their care.
«My foster family’s disdain probably had something to do with it,» Maria mentioned cynically to Dr. Schroeder.
«Then you do understand what I’m trying to tell you. Therapy is pointless if you aren’t willing to make improvements. You have come to terms with a lot of things out of your control, but now it’s time to start living. You are still young,» Dr. Schroeder responded.
«I’m 35, and I only have one friend, who is more like an acquaintance. Do you really believe I could have a genuine connection with someone?» Maria questioned with skepticism.
«I believe so. As a professional, that’s my opinion. But let’s try something else. Why don’t you consider adopting a cat?» Dr. Schroeder suggested.
Maria chuckled at the idea. «I don’t want to become the neighborhood cat lady, Doc. Oh, look at the time! Gotta go! See you!» she exclaimed, grabbing her bag.
«If you want your life to change, you’ll have to take my advice!» Dr. Schroeder shouted after her as she left.
Maria left the therapist’s office with a smile. She enjoyed their conversations, but she wasn’t interested in her therapist’s homework suggestions. «I don’t want a cat. Maybe a dog, but I don’t have the time for that either,» she pondered as she strolled home.
Her phone rang, interrupting her thoughts. «Hello, is this Maria Lewis?» the woman on the other end asked.
«Yes, this is she. How may I assist you?» Maria responded.
«Hello, Maria. This might seem odd, but my name is Caitlyn. I am your mother,» the woman disclosed.
Maria froze in her tracks. «What?» she barely managed to whisper.
«I understand this is unexpected, my calling after all this time. But would you meet me? Can we meet at the Riverside Café tomorrow at 7 p.m.?» Caitlyn pleaded.
«Ok…» was all Maria could muster. Caitlyn thanked her with a sense of relief and ended the call.
Throughout the night, Maria was restless. The idea of meeting her biological mother filled her with apprehension, despite the lingering questions that needed answers.
So, the following day, just past 7 p.m., she found herself sitting in a corner of the Riverside Café. She noticed a woman who bore a striking resemblance to her own reflection in the mirror. The older woman rose from her seat and offered a tentative smile.
«Hello,» Maria greeted as she approached Caitlyn, extending her hand.
«Maria! Oh, my! You’ve grown into such a beauty! I can’t thank you enough for coming!» Caitlyn exclaimed, her hand weakly shaking Maria’s. Maria frowned, noting the fragility of the woman’s hands, despite Caitlyn being no older than 55.
Caitlyn attempted to initiate some casual conversation as they settled down, but Maria had little patience for it. «I need to stop you right there. I’m here to hear what you have to say. Let’s cut to the chase,» she curtly told her biological mother.
«Alright, that’s fair. I suppose I’m here to share my side of the story… I was just 16 when I had you. I wasn’t equipped to raise you. My own parents were terrible. I thought the Marksons were the best family around, so I left you with them,» Caitlyn elucidated.
«They weren’t. I haven’t had any contact with them since I turned 18 and moved out. I even changed my last name,» Maria retorted.
«That’s unfortunate. I had only wanted what was best for you. Do you have a family of your own now?» Caitlyn inquired.
«What is it that you want from me, Caitlyn?» Maria deflected, her patience waning.
«Ok, ok. I know I’m not old, but I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It’s been tough,» Caitlyn confessed.
«That’s horrible, but there’s nothing I can do to help,» Maria stated matter-of-factly.
«Oh, I’m aware. No one can, really. Most doctors seem clueless, and the treatments cost a fortune. It’s—«
Maria lost her patience at that point. She could see where Caitlyn was headed and decided to intercept her. «Alright, ma’am. I see where this is going. I don’t have any money, and I find it unbelievable that you would reach out to me for financial help after abandoning me!» she lashed out at Caitlyn.
They were in public, but Maria was beyond caring. Caitlyn tried to placate her. «No, wait. I mean—» she stuttered. But Maria was not in a mood to listen.
«Don’t you DARE contact me again!» she spat at her biological mother and stormed out of the café, tears of frustration welling in her eyes.
Despite herself, Maria had harbored a glimmer of hope when Caitlyn called. She knew that hope could be treacherous. After she dried her tears, she decided to forget Caitlyn once and for all.
True to her word, Caitlyn didn’t contact Maria again. But a few months later, a lawyer reached out to Maria. He asked her to meet him at his office, where he presented Caitlyn’s will and a letter to Maria.
Caitlyn had bequeathed all of her assets to Maria, including two houses and a significant savings account. Upon hearing from the lawyer that Caitlyn had passed away, Maria was stunned. She may not have had the courage to reach out to her mother, but she never wished for her death.
«I understand some of the context from what your mother shared with me, but I recommend you read the letter she left behind,» the lawyer suggested.
Maria unfolded the letter where Caitlyn clarified that she had not contacted her for money. «My cancer was terminal. There was nothing anyone could do. My wish was to spend some time with you before I passed away. It was not out of guilt as I could never compensate for abandoning you,» Caitlyn wrote.
«But I hope this letter and my estate can somewhat make up for my mistakes. I have no one else in my life, and I hope these properties and money can be of help to you and your future family. I was glad I got to see you, despite the misunderstanding.
There was not a single day when I did not think about you and wonder where you were. But I was too afraid to find you sooner. I wish I had. Maybe then, I could have explained myself better. In any case, all I want is for you to find happiness and feel cherished because I did love you. I just wasn’t ready for it.»
Maria felt a profound sadness after finishing the letter. She could no longer judge or hate Caitlyn. Caitlyn was just a child and a human being who made mistakes. Maria asked the lawyer for the location of Caitlyn’s grave and paid a visit.
As she kneeled by Caitlyn’s grave, Maria couldn’t help but shed more tears. «I forgive you, Caitlyn. I mean… Mother. I’m sorry for not listening. I was a coward, too. I didn’t want to hope for something I never had. But I promise you, I will seek love and happiness,» she vowed.
With renewed determination, Maria returned to Dr. Schroeder and committed to following her advice. She made more friends, smiled more often, and even adopted a cat. A few years later, she met a wonderful man and never felt alone again.
What can we learn from this story?
Open communication is crucial. Misunderstandings can lead to regrettable decisions. If Maria had allowed Caitlyn to fully explain her situation, she might have had a better understanding of her mother’s intentions and could have spent more time with her.
Acceptance and forgiveness are powerful. Maria’s decision to forgive Caitlyn allowed her to let go of her past and open herself up to new relationships and experiences.